Switched On, Astypalaia Island Private Owners Get E-Cars

ATHENS – In what’s viewed as a small-scale model of what could work for the country as incentives are being offered to buy electric and hybrid cars, Volkswagen delivered the first E-Cars to the tiny Dodecanese island of Astypalaia.

The first private owners of the vehicles had their cars arrive in a fleet, including a scooter series, after local authorities began using electric vehicles in 2021 under the Smart & Sustainable project that’s a joint effort of VW and the New Democracy government, noted Kathimerini.

Astypalaia will be converted into an island where mobility will be smart and sustainable, and the energy system will be completely renewed, it was noted, and end the use of the internal combustion engine, a 19th-Century invention.

Volkswagen launched a five-year project in June, 2021 on the island to test the adoption of electric vehicles in areas switching to sustainable energy generation at the same time.

The 20-million-euro ($21.64 million) initiative will receive financial support from the Greek government. It will offer residents purchasing incentives to swap conventional vehicles for electric cars and scooters, and test ride-share applications and public transport models driven by customer demand instead of using fixed schedules and routes.

“This is very valuable knowledge because what we are going to see on this island in the next five, six, or seven years will probably last in the rest of Europe for 20 years or three decades,” VW CEO Herbert Diess said during a presentation on the island.

The company stepped up its plans to produce electric vehicles in recent years, in the wake of a major emissions scandal first discovered in the United States. VW eventually admitted installing deceptive software in millions of its diesel vehicles to make emissions appear less harmful when placed on a test machine.

The Astypalea project is “a window to a cleaner, greener future,” said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, addressing the event, and he underlined that tackling the “unprecedented climate change crisis is urgent.”

Greece is already launching the process of ending dependency on lignite for power production, he added, and is also creating “green jobs.”

During his visit to the island, Mitsotakis attended the delivery of 8 electric cars and 12 chargers, a gift of the company, to the police and the Port Authority of the island.

A memorandum between the company and Greece to establish a groundbreaking mobility system on the island was signed in November 2020. The project is expected to initially run for six years, with energy primarily generated from local green power sources (solar and wind).

Greece is keen to develop power generation from renewable energy sources on its islands to replace expensive locally produced electricity, those mostly using diesel that are being weaned off.

The government plans to use wind and solar power for the Astypalea project. Officials said researchers from the Universities of the Aegean in Greece and Strathclyde in Scotland also participate in the program.

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